Under California law, all children 17 and under must wear an approved bicycle helmet. (This also applies to children operating roller or inline skates, scooters, and skateboards.) If you violate this rule, you might face fines, civil liability, and other penalties.
Under California law, it is illegal to sell bicycle helmets that do not meet certain safety standards. However, your children’s safety is paramount, and you should always look for helmets that are clearly marked as complying with bike safety standard.
It’s also important that you get your children properly fitting bicycle helmets. A helmet that is too large or too small will not provide significant protection during a fall or collision. If you need help fitting your child with a bicycle helmet, consult with a reputable bicycle shop.
Adults Should Wear Helmets When Biking — Even if the Law Doesn’t Require It
Some communities, including Bidwell and Chico, require adults to wear bicycle helmets, state law does not mandate their use. While some bicycle advocacy groups don’t support helmet laws, Los Angeles Bicycle Law encourages all cyclists to wear appropriate protective gear. While a bicycle helmet cannot fully protect your head, brain, face, and eyes from injury, it might minimize the damage. And, wearing a bicycle helmet encourages your children and peers to follow suit.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the most serious injuries associated with bicycle accidents. During a wreck, you might strike your head against the pavement, a vehicle, or sustain a whiplash injury. These mechanisms can cause immediate brain bleeds as well as more subtle, microtrauma to delicate nerve fibers. These injuries can lead to cognitive dysfunction, headaches, blurred vision, mood changes, amnesia, sensory processing problems, and death.
While it might seem surprising that there isn’t a California bicycle helmet law for adults, there isn’t a single U.S. state that requires adult helmet use. In fact, only 21 states and the District of Columbia require children to use bicycle helmets! However, when you’re traveling make sure you review state and municipal bicycle laws– which are constantly evolving.
Bicycles and Personal Injuries
Bicycle accidents can occur for many reasons. A driver is distracted and doesn’t see you in a bike lane. A parked car unexpectedly doors you. Someone is speeding, ignores a stop sign or traffic light, or is driving while intoxicated. Many of these situations are outside your control.
However, cyclists should take all reasonable precautions when biking. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to take bicycle safety seriously — our lives and welfare depend on it. This includes following California and municipal bicycle laws, properly maintaining your bicycle’s brakes and other systems, installing legally-mandated lights and reflectors, and wearing a helmet.
What You Should Do After a Bike Accident
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, you should:
- Contact law enforcement and file a police report (documenting the circumstances surrounding the accident),
- Seek medical treatment for your injuries (even if they seem minor),
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and your bicycle,
- Get the other parties’ contact and insurance information,
- Identify witnesses who saw the accident.
- Compile your receipts, medical bills, and other information about your damages.
You should also contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer and file insurance claims against all negligent parties. Since this process can become highly technical, it’s typically in your best interest to seek legal representation — especially if you suffered severe injuries. When you work with a bicycle accident lawyer, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery, while your lawyer fights with the insurance companies on your behalf.
You May Be Able to Collect Damages
While your damages will depend on a series of factors, including the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical care, and the circumstances surrounding your accident, you might have claims for:
- Compensation for lost wages,
- Payment of your medical bills,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment, and
- Other losses associated with your accident.
However, your damages might be reduced if you were contributorily negligent. Under California law, if an injured cyclist contributed to an accident, his or her damages will be reduced proportionately. For example, suppose you were 50% responsible for a collision with a driver. If you suffered $200,000 in lost income, medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering, you could only recover $100,000 from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Consult With a California Bicycle Helmet Law Attorney
If you have questions about the California bicycle helmet law or a bicycle accident claim, contact one of the experienced lawyers at Los Angeles Bicycle Law today. We are the only law firm in California that focuses solely on bicycle-related claims. And, our knowledgeable and aggressive litigators are also avid cyclists. You can schedule a free evaluation by either completing our online form or calling us.